MCALLEN, Texas – Jorge Torres, president and founder of Interlink Trade Services, is to give an update on the impact of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement via a webinar next week.

Interlink is a licensed customs broker and warehouse service provider with facilities in McAllen, Pharr and Brownsville.

Next week’s webinar will be the third Torres has done on USMCA in collaboration with the McAllen Economic Development Corporation. The first one was in June 2020, just as USMCA was about to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. The second was in February of this year.

“Now, with a little over a year since its implementation, we are providing another update on USMCA,” Torres told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. 

“There are a few things happening that we will be mentioning on the webinar. Operationally, USMCA has worked out, there are no major hiccups. But, on the individual chapters and certain chapter provisions, this is where we are seeing, I do not want to say issues or problems, more challenges or interpretations.”

Specifically, Torres mentioned the USMCA chapter on labor. “There are a couple of issues with Mexican companies or maquiladoras that have have to respond to the rapid response request of the USMCA.”

Another specific area to talk about on the webinar, Torres said, is the energy chapter of USMCA. “The Mexican government has made some changes to their laws and regulations regarding energy policy.”

And another specific part of the new free trade agreement that needs to be discussed, Torres said, is the rule on automobile manufacturing. “This has been the biggest change as compared to NAFTA. We are going to talk about the increase in original value content, about steel and aluminum, and labor provisions. There are some disagreements between the three countries on rules of origin.”

Asked who the target audience is for the webinar, Torres said: “For the last two webinars we have mainly had people in the trade, import-export, maquiladora managers, customs brokers, consultants, logistics companies. But, our webinar will also be of interest to academia and the press. It is free and open to the public, so anyone who is interested to learn more about USMCA and what is going on is welcome to listen.”

Torres said from an operational standpoint and clearance standpoint, Covid-19 has not impacted the implantation of USMCA.

“The economy is getting back on track, trade is increasing. But, Covid is still around us and we might see another spike., We have to be cautious. Where Covid is having a big impact is the global supply chain. There we have have a few major disruptions. We are going to talk about that too during the webinar. But, overall, from a U.S.-Mexico standpoint, things are going well and we have seen an increase in trade.”

Major manufacturing companies are rethinking their supply chains following Covid, Torres said.

“We were so dependent on the Far East, and China in particular for materials and other commodities. Companies are now looking at re-shoring or establishing operations in North America, so they are not so dependent on Asia, so they can have a closer, more controllable supply chain,” Torres said.

“It is going to take time for that supply chain to change so we are still somewhat dependent on the Far East for commodities and obviously with the economy growing, (we are having) issues with microprocessing chips. That is affecting the automotive industry and other industries. Also, the ocean container imbalances, those are challenges we are seeing.”

Torres added: “Companies are rethinking their supply chains and this presents an opportunity for North America to have USMCA be a major success.”

The USMCA Webinar Update takes place Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. There will be a Q&A component towards the end of the webinar. It is free to watch but attendees must register via the McAllen EDC website.

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